Douglas courts seek to maintain digital lead

Kurt Hildebrand
Record Courier

Douglas County’s courts have been in the forefront of technology in the Silver State and the architects of that success are seeking help to keep them there.

The county’s district courts were the first in the nation to be e-certified in the country and were the first in Nevada to reach Phase 3 of the Uniform System for Judicial Reporting established by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Douglas County commissioners approved hiring an assistant court administrator and court information technology systems technician as part of the tentative budget on Wednesday.

Commissioners wrapped up the county’s $129.9 million tentative budget, that includes $3.73 million for a 7% salary adjustment for all county workers.

Supplemental budget requests amounted to $1.85 million, with half of that in the $56.4 million general fund.

District Judge Tod Young told county commissioners on Monday that the court’s case management system was vetted and installed in a year, half the time other courts have needed.

“It’s a model and it’s the only court to have that level-three certification,” Young said. “Two weeks ago, the clerks were at a conference in Las Vegas, and I got a call from Chief Judge (Linda) Bell down in Las Vegas in the evening asking, ‘What is going on with your clerk staff?’ The judge said she was giving a presentation on high-risk protective orders, and of all the clerks, they were the only ones in the state who could answer the questions, and the only ones engaged enough to be able to ask questions.”

Young said the Nevada Supreme Court met with Court Administrator Bobbie Williams for six hours recently to find out how Douglas managed to get its digital system running.

Most of that success is attributable to Williams, but she told commissioners that she and court Information technician Mike McAllister are going to need help bringing the justice courts online.

McAllister provides the only IT services to 134 county employees who work out of the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center and their 236 desktops, laptops and tablets, 41 servers and 85 phones, in addition to all the other technology that is separate from the county’s IT system.

It’s a rare trial that McAllister doesn’t suddenly appear to aid the attorneys with presentations.

A new state law that converts traffic matters from criminal to civil will keep both Williams and McAllister and their assistants busy through the rest of 2022.

“I can attest to you that the Douglas County Clerk’s Office and the way we run our courts is second to none,” Tahoe Township Justice of the Peace Richard Glasson said. “I learned that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Well, Bobbie’s basket is full of eggs and the Legislature keeps adding more eggs. We’re efficient because of what Mike and Bobbie do.”

County Human Resources Wendy Lang said that the budget includes the addition of 7.8 new employees which would bring the county to 564.8. Lang said that once she gets the green light, she will begin recruiting.

The Sheriff’s Office has 106 of its 112 authorized positions filled, according to Sheriff Dan Coverley.

“I just can’t seem to get past 106,” Coverley told commissioners on Monday.

Deputies start their careers in the jail and undergo significant training over the next several years.

He said that deputies don’t really reach their full potential until they’ve been with the Sheriff’s Office for about five years.

Coverley had just announced the hiring of another deputy before he presented to commissioners. The Sheriff’s Office has hired 13 employees since Jan. 11, 2021, with eight still working.

He said that counterfeit painkillers containing fentanyl and aggressive driving will continue to be problems.

Of the 574 people investigated and arrested for at least one felony, 231 were for crimes against people, instead of drugs.

Aiding in many of the drug arrests are nine K-9 patrol officers, that are funded entirely by donations.

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